Fear & Loathing In Tampa
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The many issues I have with the current state of Republicans are all fixable.
How the Republican Party Has Lost Its Way
The convention in Tampa begins earnestly Tuesday, and I have no reason to be inspired to vote for Mitt Romney. I doubt I'll receive the inspiration from this week's activities. The pomp and circumstance of conventions masks the issues encumbered by the silent majority of Republicans.
My personal GOP resume: registered to vote in 1999 as a Republican in New York, voted for Bush twice, advocated for GOP issues in the Sam Adams Review (Boston University's conservative publication), voted in every primary election except the 2012 Florida primary (moved to Florida in 2007).
Yet I was forced to vote for President Obama in 2008. I've been fettered to the idea that I'm a Democrat (yikes!) because what I advocate almost seems counter to what my party currently advocates.
- Freedom ' this is the most important proposition for any American, let alone a Republican. Our American cause is to champion freedom and individual liberty.
- Responsibility ' with great power of individual freedom is the responsibility of making sure that all freedoms are protected ' even those we Republicans don't like.
21st Century Republicanism should harken back to the original use by James Madison. Throughout the Federalist papers Madison argued that "republicanism" meant government representative of all factions in America. Madison believed that factions had the potential to render government impotent and thus designed our government restrain factions and create gridlock. Today the Republican Party is a monolith that threatens to swallow up the electorate with skewed views favored by the lunatic wing of American society.
Republican - In 2012 that means you must have 3 distinct characteristics (white, Christian, wealthy) ' those characteristics inform every one of your decisions. The party does not seek to extend prosperity and freedom to all Americans, just to protect the ruffled feathers of wealthy white Christians.
The many issues I have with the current state of Republicans are all fixable. Granted, the party platform has already been published and, once again, I wince at the contents. What does it say about the platform when the candidate for President is distancing himself from it BEFORE it's released publicly?
Grover Norquist is a major plague upon the GOP. Grover lives under a bridge somewhere and appears whenever the word "tax" is uttered by a politician. He is the 2nd most powerful man in America simply because his troll army mobilizes quickly to intimidate any politician that signed his pledge into complying with Grover's will. Once a tax increase has been thwarted, Grover returns to life under his bridge.
Let's be frank - Tax increases ARE necessary to pay down debt. The great Republican talking point regarding taxes states that cutting taxes increases governmental revenue. That point is correct on its face; however the back end of the idea holds that while the revenue from that same sector will increase, the overall net effect is that government must do with less money as less is coming in.
There is no way out of debt unless taxes are raised on people that can afford to pay them. In a party that wraps itself around the crucifix it appears that the Christian value of charity has been overlooked.
Speaking of Christ, I do not believe that He concerns himself with the matters of public policy. As a Catholic I'm compelled to speak about how the insidious infiltration of evangelical Christianity has robbed the GOP of their moral freedom.
Many prominent Republicans and Conservative commentators crow that America is a "Judeo-Christian nation". That statement is a searing indictment and a sharp break from the original intent of the founders. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, in 1777 authored the "Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom". Jefferson's text declares that God created the mind free and therefore any legislative attempts to restrict independent thought and the independent practice of religion run counter to the Almighty's intent. The key sentence is as follows, "Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics and geometry."
Furthering Jefferson's intent on religious freedom was Madison, especially in Federalist no. 10 regarding factions. Madison explicitly worries that religious factions could dominate government and compromise the will of the people in favor of a specific religious doctrine.
Ladies and gentleman of the Republican Party, the fears of Madison and Jefferson have been realized through the coercive effects of the religious right. Rush Limbaugh boasts that he scolds moderate Republicans who are wary of the evangelical sect of the GOP. Limbaugh's idea is that the evangelicals are the ones who vote and they're the voters who deliver the GOP electoral power. The time for Republicans to kowtow to the wishes of religious freaks who believe in the power of snake charming instead of the proof that Earth is warming or the reality of evolution never should have arrived and should not continue for one more minute.
I stand with Madison and Jefferson, and furthermore their writing bears out a truth that the Republican platform will not acquiesce to: America is a nation of diverse religious opinion and that all religious opinions should be respected and that no sect shall exercise dominance over an individual's liberty.
To that end, I beseech Republicans to reconsider their stand on the two issues fueling America's culture war: Abortion and Gay Marriage.
Abortion is many things, according to the authors of Freakonomics abortion is the single reason that starting in the early 1990's American cities experienced a sudden decline in crime. Their rationale is simply that mothers who would raise children in abjectly horrid circumstances (the same environmental circumstances associated with criminal behavior) were the same ones having abortions. As a Catholic I'm bombarded with religious messages regarding the sanctity of life and specifically the practice of abortion's disregard therein.
If I am to apply the ideas of Madison and Jefferson along with the Constitution than I will concede that my religious beliefs shall have no influence on the legal doctrine of America. The hypocrisy of clinging to ideals of individual liberty on matters such as Obamacare and then expecting a nation of 300 million to sublimate their views to that of a minority is asinine. Moreover, only 20% of Americans believe that abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances ' an identical percentage to those Americans who believe that abortion should be allowed in every circumstance. As a man it's not my domain to tell a woman what she is allowed and not allowed to do with her body. A common sense platform for the GOP regarding abortion would be that abortion is legal until the fetus is viable outside of the womb and at the point of viability abortion is illegal. That proposal is one that's independent of religious thought.
Another law that should be on the books and independent of religious influence is that of allowing gay couples to be married. The Republican platform seeks to have a Constitutional amendment outright banning the marriage of same-sex couples. That amendment would be in violation of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law for all American citizens. This is the same line of thinking that believes it's wrong for a black person to share a lunch counter with a white person, and that separate but equal is perfectly legal. Any person who believes that the sanctity of marriage is threatened by having gay couples wed is a complete moron. They are the type of person who believes that the world is flat, dinosaurs never roamed the Earth, Earth is 6,000 years old, and that Abraham Lincoln spent his youth as a vampire slayer. Yet Republicans embrace these primitive pieces of trash. Mitt Romney is outright seeking a Constitutional ban on gay marriage - ironic because at one time his religious beliefs were pro-polygamy.
The Republican Party, my party, needs to shed this horrid pro-lunatic fringe Christianity, pro-opulent wealth, pro-white and pro-selective liberty mindset in favor of true liberty. We need to quit endorsing shrews such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin instead of high minded intellectuals such as Olympia Snowe. We need to repudiate the Todd Akin's of the world not because they hurt our electoral prospects but because their line of thought is so 13th century. The time for Nixonian divide and conquer politics has ended. We Republicans have always boasted how we have a big tent. The tent is no longer large if I am an outsider. I miss my party.
Dan Tria, 14th Amendment Advocate: Dan Tria is a full time political junkie who pines for the days of soundbite free discourse. After growing up in the Hamptons he graduated from Boston University with a BA in English. Mr. Tria enjoys teaching and coaching He's in awe of James Madison's brilliance and believes the 14th Amendment to be the greatest part of the Constitution. Mr. Tria is a high school teacher and coaches two sports. In his spare time Mr. Tria can be found in his Man Cave exhorting his beloved Boston Red Sox to... (more...)